Batman has always been characterized by his unwillingness to cross the line and kill, something that marks him out as a rarity in a city like Gotham that’s been riddled with corruption and violence for as long as anyone can remember. The Dark Knight has tended to steadfastly stick to the rule on the big screen, although Zack Snyder had to publicly claim that Ben Affleck’s Caped Crusader didn’t kill anybody despite the evidence being pretty clear that he’d blown countless henchmen to smithereens during Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Of course, one of the most iconic comic book stories that the legendary superhero has ever been a part of is Batman: The Killing Joke, which is to be expected from a saga written by Alan Moore, the visionary creator of Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta. Moore has always had a fractured relationship with adaptations of his work, publicly disowning every single one of them, and in a recent interview, he once again denounced his own output and admitted that The Killing Joke is far too violent.
“I have no interest in superheroes, they were a thing that was invented in the late 1930s for children, and they are perfectly good as children’s entertainment. But if you try to make them for the adult world then I think it becomes kind of grotesque. I’ve been told the Joker film wouldn’t exist without my Joker story, but three months after I’d written that I was disowning it, it was far too violent. It was Batman for Christ’s sake, it’s a guy dressed as a bat. Increasingly I think the best version of Batman was Adam West, which didn’t take it at all seriously.”
While the arc hasn’t yet been seen in live-action, it was clearly a huge influence on Todd Phillips’ Joker and to a lesser extent Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, but Moore appears to be adamant that comic books don’t have to get so dark and violent even though he wrote some of them.
In any case, Netflix subscribers will be able to make their own minds up about the matter when Batman: The Killing Joke is added to the streaming service’s content library in just a few days. But no matter what, this will always be regarded as one of the seminal Batman stories regardless of the violent content.